It might be time to leave your partner if their behavior jeopardizes your safety, well-being, and personal growth.

Trying to make a relationship work with a partner who’s living with addiction can be an incredibly complex and challenging journey. The emotional bonds, history, and hope for change often make the decision to leave an incredibly difficult one.

Yet, it’s important to consider this choice for the well-being and personal growth of both yourself and your partner.

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Here are six questions to ask yourself when considering breaking up with a partner living with addiction:

1. Is my safety and well-being at risk?

Has your partner’s addiction led to situations of physical violence, emotional abuse, or other behaviors that jeopardize your safety or well-being?

Prioritize your safety and consider seeking support from professionals or organizations that specialize in domestic violence, if necessary.

2. How does my partner’s addiction affect my emotional and mental health?

Reflect on the emotional toll of being in this relationship. 2019 research suggests that women with substance-dependent spouses endure significant psychological fluctuations, leading to distressing emotions such as anger, frustration, and anxiety.

If you’ve been experiencing this, consider asking yourself if it’s worth staying in the relationship.

3. What are my boundaries and are they being respected?

Evaluate the boundaries you’ve set regarding acceptable behaviors related to the addiction. For instance, have you frequently dealt with manipulation, secrecy, or broken promises?

Boundaries are important as they help safeguard your emotional health and establish a framework for healthier interactions.

4. Is my partner actively seeking help and change?

Does your partner acknowledge their addiction, and are they actively seeking help and recovery? Look for signs of genuine commitment, such as attending therapy, participating in support groups, and making lifestyle changes.

5. How does the relationship align with my long-term goals and happiness?

If you stay in the relationship, will it align with your long-term goals, aspirations, and overall happiness? Be honest with yourself: Do you believe it’s possible to have a healthy and fulfilling future together?

6. Am I afraid of leaving?

When you’re ready, try to explore your fears about leaving the relationship. Are you worried about being alone, facing financial difficulties, or feeling guilty?

Consider delving into the specific reasons that make the idea of leaving challenging. Understanding your fears can help you address them and make a decision that aligns with your best interests.

Reasons why people stay with romantic partners who live with addiction

Here are some common reasons why people might stay with romantic partners who live with an addiction:

  • love and emotional attachment
  • hope for change
  • fear of loneliness
  • fear of repercussions
  • financial dependence
  • sense of responsibility
  • shared history and memories
  • guilt or shame
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Preparing to leave a partner who misuses substances requires careful planning and support. Prioritize your safety by creating a safety plan, and reach out to friends, family, or support groups who can provide emotional assistance.

Make sure you have a safe temporary living arrangement, and prepare for financial independence, if necessary.

When it’s time to have a conversation with your partner, try to choose a calm and appropriate time to express your concern for their well-being. Use “I” statements to convey your feelings without sounding accusatory.

Try to keep a calm demeanor, even if emotions arise. And actively listen to their thoughts and feelings, giving them a chance to share.

Empathy in word choice is crucial. Try to avoid using blame or shame, and focus on the impact of the situation rather than assigning fault. Express your care and support for them as a person, beyond the addiction.

Finally, offer to help your partner find resources and support for their recovery. Try to demonstrate a hopeful attitude and encourage them to think positively.

One small study conducted in Iran found that training in positive thinking skills improves hope and quality of life in individuals with drug dependency. The positive effects were attributed to focusing on positive emotions, adapting to challenges, and recognizing strengths.

  • Seek support: Reach out to friends, family members, or professionals who can offer emotional guidance, understanding, and a non-judgmental space to share your feelings and experiences.
  • Redirect energy: Channel your energy into pursuing personal goals, dreams, and aspirations. Redirecting your focus toward positive endeavors can help you build a fulfilling life beyond the relationship.
  • Prioritize self-care: Engage in activities that promote your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Dedicate time to hobbies, exercise, relaxation, and self-nurturing practices to help you recover and regain your strength.
  • Practice healing techniques: Embrace mindfulness practices, meditation, journaling, and creative outlets as tools to process complex emotions, alleviate stress, and promote healing during this transition.
  • Positive self-talk: Replace self-blaming thoughts with affirmations that acknowledge your courage, strength, and resilience. For instance, say “I deserve happiness and love, and I will find it again.” Or “This breakup is a new beginning for me to grow and rediscover myself.”
  • Set boundaries: Establish and communicate clear emotional boundaries with your ex-partner. This protects you from potential manipulation and emotional turmoil. It also helps you maintain a healthy level of distance.

Dealing with addiction, whether your own or a loved one’s, is a complex challenge. Regardless of whether you choose to remain in the relationship or part ways, approach the situation with compassion for both yourself and your partner.

If you’re ready to end your relationship with someone living with addiction consider the following steps:

  • speak with trusted loved ones to create a safety plan
  • remain calm and use “I” statements
  • practice empathy and active listening
  • offer helpful resources for professional support

Remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Every situation is unique, and your decision should align with what feels right for you and your well-being.

If you’re unsure, seeking guidance from professionals can provide valuable insights to help you navigate this difficult journey.

If you or someone you know are experiencing controlling behavior or domestic violence, you can: